If quitting smoking was easy, there wouldn’t be many smokers left. The addictive nature of nicotine makes kicking the habit harder, but by getting a plan in place before you attempt to quit, you may be more successful. Plus, if you’re thinking of starting a family, stopping smoking could help to make your sperm healthier.
Smoking and Sperm Quality
Smoking has long been known to cause a variety of health complications. However, until recently there was limited information about the link between smoking and semen quality.
In 2019, scientists conducted a large study of over 1600 healthy, fertile young men, comparing smoking habits with sperm count and motility, as well as semen volume. Even when adjusting for other variables such as age, weight, income, drinking status and passive smoking, the researchers found that heavy smoking (20 or more cigarettes per day) was related to lower semen volume and total sperm count.
Crucially, the negative impact of smoking on semen quality was not seen in men who had stopped smoking. Further research is needed, but it is encouraging to note that if you quit smoking now, you could produce healthy sperm in future.
Tips for Quitting Smoking
If you have decided that you want to stop smoking, the first step is to get a quit date in mind. Pick a date that will work for you, and that feels manageable. There is no point trying to quit during a stressful life event, or right before a big work presentation, for example.
Once you have a date in mind, try the following tips to kick the habit for good:
- Get rid of all smoking paraphernalia including cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, and smoking papers. This will help to remind you that you are serious about quitting, as well as reducing temptation.
- Tell friends and family that you intend to quit, and get their support.
- Write down all the reasons you want to quit, as this will help you feel more determined. One of your reasons might be to start trying to conceive.
- Think about your smoking triggers, and try to avoid them or find something different to do. If you smoke while driving, call a friend instead. If you stand outside the office to smoke, try a regular short walk in its place.
- Make a plan for times when you are tempted to smoke. Could you exercise, watch a movie, write in your journal or play a video game to distract you from the craving?
- Use aids to stop smoking, including smoking cessation drugs such as nicotine replacement therapy.
- Consider other forms of support to help you manage the withdrawal from nicotine, such as counseling.
- Join an online or in person group to talk to others who are also trying to quit.
- Even if you slip up and smoke a cigarette, try to get straight back to quitting. One cigarette doesn’t have to lead to another, so this isn’t the end of giving up for good.
- Treat yourself to something you really love with the money you save from quitting smoking – a massage, a new item of clothing, or a meal out.
Smoking can have an impact on both sperm count and semen volume. However, in ex-smokers, this detrimental effect was not seen during a large research study. If you are thinking about starting a family, now is a great time to quit smoking. Quitting could not only improve your semen quality – being a non-smoker will also help to create a healthier environment for your partner during pregnancy, and for any future children, too.
YO Sperm Home Test is a simple way to check motile sperm concentration and sperm quality through the YO Score. Conducted in the privacy of your own home, you can find out how your sperm compares to other men who have fathered children. Order your test here today.